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Hubbard comes up short vs. Poland

POLAND — After a nail-biting Week 1 loss during a torrential downpour at South Range, the Poland Bulldogs have turned their season around completely.

What faced them Friday evening was a 4-0 Hubbard Eagles squad that only allowed 30 points through its first four contests.

Poland routed the Northeast-8 rival by a final of 28-0 to find itself at second place in the Northeast-8 Conference behind South Range.

“I was just real proud of our guys, that’s a good football team,” Poland coach Ryan Williams said about Hubbard. “They’re (Hubbard) well-coached, we’ve had some good games with them.

“Unfortunately, the reality of the game is that they’ve had some injuries, a couple key guys that were hurt. But not to take away from our guys, but we played well and are proud of our guys playing at home tonight and the way we handled things.”

The Eagles (4-1) dropped their first contest of the season, but Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman isn’t discouraged.

“We fought hard for four quarters, I think our defense honestly played well, we just didn’t help them offensively,” he said.

“We couldn’t make first downs, they were out there too long. By the second half we started to wear down, they have an advantage of being able to play a fresh DL and a fresh OL. We’ve got guys going both ways, and that’s not an excuse, it’s just the reality.”

It was a fairly uneventful first quarter, but Bulldogs senior Peyton Mrakovich found paydirt on a 22-yard run to give Poland a 7-0 lead before halftime.

“It gives us a lot of motivation,” said the senior about scoring first. “It drives us, that first thing, looking back at all of our linemen that did their job correctly.

“That’s like, alright, we know what we can do, we just need to press on from that, and do everything as smooth as it can go.”

The Bulldogs did indeed press on, as sophomore running back Bryce Barringer blasted off for 60 yards midway though the third quarter to boost the lead to 14-0. Senior Jacob Caudle scampered in on a 2-yard run late in the third to make it 21-0.

Poland scored one last time midway through the fourth quarter, when junior linebacker Christian Colosimo returned a Nikolas Hendrix interception to the house for 65 yards to cap off the victory.

“You’ve got to settle in, you can’t prepare your scout team always trying to replicate what you’re going to see in practice,” Williams said. “But, they’re a good football team, they’ve got good personnel, so we had to kind of settle in, see the speed of things and let our guys up front kind of settle in to what they were trying to do.”

Junior quarterback Jack Fulton was 7-for-14 throwing for 102 yards, and picked up another 52 yards on the ground. Barringer finished with 103 yards and Mrakovich had 28.

Hendrix was 8-for-18 passing for 93 yards and three interceptions for the Eagles. Junior running back T.C. Caffey had 73 yards rushing on 18 carries.

Poland outgained Hubbard 330-138 on total yardage.

Williams is happy with the win, but with the bizarre year that 2020 has been, he’s content taking it one game at a time.

“There’s no momentum this year, everything has been so hit or miss and so it’s great, it’s certainly a whole lot better getting ready to finish up the season with a win then it is the other way.

“There doesn’t feel like there’s any flow to the season, that’s for sure.”

After falling short in the state semifinals last fall, Mrakovich said he feels like Poland is prepared.

“We can make a run,” he said. “I believe in them, from last year’s people who played in that with those guys, I feel that we can build the confidence.”

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